Age-related macular degeneration ( )
Macular degeneration is the accumulation of debris in the retina that causes destruction to the photoreceptors in the center of the macula (the visual field). It can seriously affect the patient’s vision.
The macula is a defined area about 5mm wide that is located in the retina of the eye. It contains the highest concentration of photoreceptors and is responsible for focused vision. Degeneration of the cells responsible for the photoreceptors' metabolism around the macula causes an accumulation of metabolic products that drown the retina's photoreceptors. It usually happens as part of the so-called age-related, dry macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in people over 65 years in the western world. Additional incrimination of blood vessels into the retina, water retention and other deposits lead to the less common wet macular degeneration. Less commonly, certain drugs (such as chloroquine) or an extreme myopia can cause macular degeneration.
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As the name age-related macular degeneration suggests, the disease frequently occurs with old age. Even before the patient notices deterioration of vision, an ophthalmologist can detect the presence of accumulated debris in the retina. Patients often report deterioration in the eye’s ability to focus and notice a grey shadow wherever they look. In the wet form of macular degeneration, warped perception of fixed objects, such as words in text, occurs.
There is currently no treatment that can cure the dry form of macular degeneration. Specialized glasses for macular degeneration exist and can help to improve vision. In some cases of the wet form of macular degeneration, laser treatment or photodynamic treatment can be used to clog up abnormal vessel growth. Additionally, medication can be sprayed into the eyes at regular intervals in an attempt to stop the progress of the disease.